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The ILC’s work on State responsibility: personal reflections

In 1995, the English version of the Commentary on the UN Charter I had organized and edited at the initiative and with the support of the German Foreign Office was presented to the UN in New York. Shortly thereafter, I got a phone call from an official of the UN Department at the Foreign Office who, after expressing the thanks of his Office for my  involvement with the project, continued by remarking  “I think we owe you something”. Jokingly, I replied that Carl-August Fleischhauer, the German Judge at the ICJ at the time, had recently been elected for a second term, so that job was not available. But what then turned out in the further, more serious, course of our conversation was that the International Law Commission was a possibility: Christian Tomuschat, after having served ten years on the Commission, had signalled that he did not want to run for a third term and was I interested in the job? I did not hesitate for a moment and two years later I was preparing for my…

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The ILC Articles at 20: Introduction to the Symposium

The Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (Articles), developed by the International Law Commission (ILC), turn 20 this year. On 9 August 2001 – 45 years after the first report by Special Rapporteur Francisco García-Amador on the topic, after 5 Special Rapporteurs and 34 reports by them – the ILC adopted the final text…

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Human Rights Watch Responds: Reflections on Apartheid and Persecution in International Law

We appreciate the rich discussion triggered by this week’s EJIL Talk! symposium, which has addressed a number of legal issues arising from our report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.” The report has received significant media attention and sparked many useful conversations since its release in late April. But…

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The Apartheid Accusation Against Israel is Baseless – and Agenda-Driven

Human Rights Watch’s new report accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid is, despite its length, a propaganda document: full of falsehoods and distortions. The world it describes is an alternate reality. Addressing a document so agenda-driven and skewed presents the challenge of dealing with Big Lies: merely engaging with them gives at least some credibility to its…

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Uncomfortable truths: how HRW errs in its definition of “Israeli apartheid”, what is missing, and what are the implications?

The discourse on apartheid in the Israeli-Palestinian context has evolved. Coinciding with the formal opening of an investigation by the ICC (as well as the admissibility decision in the inter-State proceedings initiated by Palestine before the CERD – see here), between January and June 2021 several organisations and authors – most notably Human Rights Watch (in A…

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